Pirates take opening game in final series of 2012


With the last series of the year starting, most baseball’s eyes are on Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, playing in his last three regular-season games before retirement. Those eyes are probably not on the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are guaranteed to finish the season below .500, the franchise’s 20th consecutive losing season.

Sep 21, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) hits a single against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

That didn’t matter to the Pirates Monday night as they beat the Atlanta Braves 2-1 for their 78th win of the season, the most wins by a Pirates team since 1999. While the story of the next few days is about Jones, a future Hall of Fame inductee, the story of the game belonged to rookie Starling Marte.

Marte was directly involved in both of the Pirates runs. He led off the third inning with a triple, his sixth of the season. Marte would later score on an RBI ground out by Chase d’Arnaud.

Then in the fifth inning Marte led off with a home run to center, his fifth of the season. The Pirates offense could only muster five hits and Marte had two of them.

While Marte was the story on the offensive side, it was fellow rookie Jeff Locke who excelled on the mound. Locke earned his first major league victory by limiting the Braves to one run in six innings while striking out six.

After the Pirates lost Sunday for the first time all season when leading after eight innings, it was Jared Hughes – not Joel Hanrahan – on for the save in the ninth. Hughes picked up his second career save with little drama.

Kevin Correia goes Tuesday night it what could be his final start for the Pirates.